I sent a wide-ranging complaint letter to The Co-Op after hitting saturation point with the continued problems with their online business banking, a catalogue of mistakes and inefficiencies making international payments, and continuing frustrations with the idiotic personal banking chip reader and antiquated personal banking site.
You know, little things. My complaint was very much supportive of the banks ideals and its original market-leading position on online banking.
Anyway the response has finally come. To paraphrase:
- They say they have improved resourcing in the Foreign Services department (for business)
- They apologised for the mistake with my international payment and gave me £50. OK, but this doesn’t cover the time spent dealing with their antiquated systems.
- On the requirement for obsolete fax machines for international payments: “We currently action foreign transfers from written instructions to ensure there is no misinterpretation of the customer request”. This is laughably inconsistent! The whole problem with my international payment (which was faxed) was exactly this – a misinterpretation. Furthermore they go on to state that if you use their premium “Financial Director” online app, you can make international payments without a fax.
- They say the new business online banking, which is being very positively received they say (compared to existing, any site that worked every day would be well received) will be fully rolled out to all customers by August/Sept (I was griping they said Q2 2010 in response to Radio 4 Money Box).
- The security token for the new business banking is a PIN-driven code generator that “fits on a keyring” (i.e. easily stolen) and does not require a card, unlike the one used for personal banking. It will be used for logging in, and also for “some operations” like creating a new beneficiary.
- They rejected my criticism of the telephone banking as inherently insecure because “this is normal within the industry”. This was in reference to the false sense of security created by the need for pin generators etc. They seem confused here and have misunderstood the point that the full account number, sort code and full 4-digit PIN must be given over the phone to access their automated service. Add another handset to someone’s phone line, use your mobile to record the eavesdropped DTMF tones and you’re away.
- Finally, they assure me that they are investing in an “innovative new banking system” for personal banking. No specific timescales, but “the Bank is committed to this development”.
Let’s not hold our breath. New business banking has been in development for years, only just rolling out. Timescales given out for it last year, still not met revised dates.
I hope to be proven wrong, but I fear that the ongoing Co-operative Bank Business Online Banking fiasco is going to degenerate even further.
The co-op bank have published a short video screencast demoing their new system, presumably to make us believe they might actually come up with something usable any time soon. The new system is already overdue, pushed back to Q2 2010 which we are already into.
Why am I whining again about this? Well if you watch the video pay attention to some of the details.
First – you need a code generator device just to LOG IN. Yes that’s right. You need a CUSTOMER ID, and a USER ID (hey I’m a small business, there’s only me!), and a generated passcode from those crappy machines that need your card and PIN entry. This mechanisms is supposed to make you more secure – but the way Co-op use it on their personal banking is a complete nightmare. You can’t even transfer a few quid to one of your own accounts, pay a bill (already set up) or amend an existing standing order without having to grab a registered debit card AND the code generator device. It makes the entire process extremely slow and awkward. What about people who work on the move? This is not user friendly at all. Using it to log in is a nightmare.
Second – notice how the transaction display in the video is a complete usability cock up. It shows 3-4 lines of balances without scrolling, despite there being much more screen space. It has a horizontal scroll bar all the time, because there are too many columns shown. Even with this, there’s not enough space given to the name of the account and it wraps after only a few characters. All this can be fixed quite easily but the point is it betrays a complete lack of understanding of usability.
On the plus side, I do notice from the navigation menus shown that there appears to be an ability to search for transactions, although you’ll forgive me if I don’t hold out much hope for the actual implementation of this being any good.
There’s however no mention of an international payments option, which presumably – and rather insanely in 2010 – still requires a FAX sent to their offices, on “headed notepaper” to be acceptable. I know, I had to do this last week. It is so antiquated and so foolish. FAX is inherently insecure, and you could easily fax all your bank details to the wrong person if you get the number wrong. Add to that the hilarious false assumption that “headed notepaper” is of any valid use in judging authenticity at all. They don’t know what my headed notepaper looks like. In fact I don’t have any. I sent it with a default template from iWork. And yet if it doesn’t look like “headed notepaper” they won’t accept it.
Laughable. Wake up banks! We don’t user typewriters, telex or fax any more, even if you do in your antiquated businesses.
I’m just logging these FAILURES OF THE CO-OPERATIVE BUSINESS BANKING now to up the pressure and publicity… and get more comments from other users. There are already many comments on a prior post about the constant errors and NO_RESOURCE errors from Co-op biz web banking.
How come we can’t claim compensation for this? Because we can call up and wait 20min to be served?
- Try to log in, can’t. Says NO_RESOURCES error
- Try to log in again. Same
- Try to log in again. Same
- Try to log in. Succeed. Forwards me to “You MUST change you password” screen
- Annoyed, enter old and new passwords and submit. Says NO_RESOURCES error
- Have to log in again. Don’t know which password to use now. Try more than 5 times. Sometimes wrong credentials (I don’t know which is right now) and sometimes NO_RESOURCES
- Finally get in, and taken to “You MUST change you password” screen again
- Change password OK, and log in. Amen
[UPDATE: An hour later I try to log in to pay my accountant. Log in fine. Get to payment screen, go through the mindachingly awful UI to select a date range - did I mention they changed the default to showing all reports for "today" only to lessen system load? - Try to get list of previous payments... NO_RESOURCES. Returns me to login screen. Log in again, shows me I am "already logged in". Dashboard comes up, half page fails to load "Unable to find service BroadcastMessaging". It goes on....]
I know, it’s too much to ask. I’d like to view the transactions on my business current account since December 2008 please. Oooops E_MT_ERROR and:
Error: org.omg.CORBA.NO_RESOURCES: vmcid: 0×0 minor code: 0 completed: No (8516)
Again. At best Co-op business banking is painfully slow. Very often it just doesn’t work at all.
Today, I am finally going to see if I can talk to a manager on their internet team and see what plans they have to remedy this.
Thanks to all the Co-op customers who have commented on my various posts about them. Keep the comments coming.
The uselessness of Co-op Bank’s online business banking is a long running saga on my blog.
The latest twist, which I noticed some weeks ago, is as follows. Previously lots of problems with CORBA_NO_RESOURCES errors coming back to you when you try to do stuff.
It doesn’t take an IT consultant to guess this means their servers are overloaded.
Which is why I am a little cynical when I see that they have changed all the payment reporting screens to default to show only payments from TODAY by default. Where you used to see a history of recent payments immediately, you always have to select a date range and do a report now.
Why cynical? Well you could argue that this was a cheap way to further inconvenience customers reduce load on the database systems.
Dear Co-op bank. I’m getting more and more people contacting me via blog comments saying how fed up they are. You are going to lose a lot of business if you don’t sort this out.